Anime Reviews:

Ghost In the Shell

(Mamoru Oshii, 1995)

[Ghost In the Shell]THE most hyped anime release in the West since Akira, Ghost in the Shell had a lot to live up to. It comes as no surprise, therefore, to learn that while this is terrific Japanese animation at its best, it doesn't come close to Akira status and disappoints in the narrative department at least.

Based upon the manga by Appleseed and Dominion Tank Police creator, Masamune Shirow, the complex SF storyline revolves around a computer hacker known as the Puppet Master. By tapping into human minds, this data criminal uses victims like puppets to carry out his techno crimes. Utilising animation from conventional cell techniques to stunning computer imaging, Ghost... is a technical tour de force. Accompanied by a fantastic score from the prolific and gifted Kenji Kawai, the tale moves from one magnificent visual set piece to another. It's easy to see its influence on films like The Matrix.

Where it doesn't succeed is in drawing the viewer into caring about the characters. Director Mamoru Oshii can always be relied upon to create story driven anime that really engages the viewer on an intellectual level. But this ultimately comes off as a visually stunning and intelligent but (like much of Oshii's work) emotionally detached experience. 'A seriously flawed masterpiece' is, I think, a reasonable summary. Followed nine years later by a CGI-enhanced sequel. 7/10

Rob Dyer (January 2005)

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